I am following up recent letters from Rector Mike Hirschfeld ’85 and Board of Trustees President Archie Cox, Jr. ’58 to invite you into the conversation and to encourage you to be an active part of the Alumni Association in our ongoing work to strengthen our community and support the work of the School today.
You are not reading about SPS in the news because the School is doing the wrong thing; precisely the opposite. Though in the past the School has never felt obligated to relay the particulars of internal disciplinary matters to the alumni body at large, it has chosen to do so now, in the interest of full transparency and in light of misleading media coverage. I wholeheartedly support this outreach. Speaking as the parent of a 2017 graduate, I can say with authority that the SPS community is even stronger than it was when my son entered in the fall of 2014 – and it is light years from the SPS I attended in the late seventies. The Harshbarger report is evidence of the School’s willingness to face even the darkest elements of our past. Today SPS is aggressively implementing pioneering programming that is educating and empowering students and faculty to confront both problematic aspects of the institutional culture and negative societal norms. Students are self-policing and reporting, as they did in the recent “crown” incident, and the administration does not hesitate to discipline students whose behavior violates school rules. These programs are working, and we should be proud of these proactive efforts. Our students and faculty are inspiring in how they are boldly facing the challenges of being a teenager in today’s world while building a community that is actively confronting sexism, inequality, and injustice.
This is a turning point in the history of the School. I, along with the Alumni Association leadership, am confident in the School’s current direction, and we have an opportunity now to grow in similar ways as an alumni body. The AAEC is working on a number of programs to move our alumni forward toward a more open and inclusive community. It is my hope that during my three-year term as Alumni Association president, we will strengthen the alumni community and partner with the School through several related initiatives. These include a stronger Pelican Network, the XIX Society for female alumnae, an alumni of color affinity group, an alumni/School communication committee, an alumni/student outreach committee, and an alumni reconciliation and healing network. In all initiatives, we hope for the increased involvement of a broad and diverse alumni body and productive partnership with the School.
The School needs your support during this challenging and public review. This is our St. Paul’s School, and as alumni, we all have a stake in its future. We want to hear from you even if you don’t agree with current policies; perhaps especially if you don’t agree. I welcome your active input and passionate engagement. Please do not hesitate to be in touch with me at the address below; Trisha Patterson ’82, executive vice president of the Alumni Association (firstname.lastname@example.org); or Alisa Barnard ’94, executive director of the Alumni Association (email@example.com).